Sunday, December 16, 2012

28 days of keeping it real

A couple of things have happened of late, which got me thinking about, well a lot. I know I am not alone in this, given that one of these catalyzing events involved the deaths of an entire first grade class, among others. I also heard of the death of an old friend. Someone I probably haven't seen in 15 years, and honestly, one I may have never seen again.

I don't know or understand the circumstances of my friend's death, and I don't think any of us will ever know or understand what would drive a young man to open fire in an elementary school. What I do know, is that when no one is willing to talk about why some one died 50-odd years too soon, and someone else kills a room full of children before them self, the list of potential causes narrows significantly.

For my friend, whom again, I can only speculate about and do not know the circumstances, suicide and/or overdose are possible. For the mass-shooter, it was suicide. And what do substance abuse and suicide have in common? Mental illness.

So I found myself wishing that mental illness did not carry the socialized stigma that it does, and asking others to open up such that we can learn, and invoke change. Why not break the silence and get over the socially uncomfortable truths? In theory, this sounds like a good idea, right? Well, not everyone agrees. And, of course, I can understand not wanting to publicly (or rather, facebook-ly) discuss the circumstances of the death of a dear friend.

Yet, here I find myself thinking and saying what we "should" do, without doing that very thing myself. That is, going beyond my own comfort level in order to practice what I preach. Well, here I am. Tonight I am pledging  to "keep it real" and for the next 28 days, am I am going to share tidbits about my own screwy self. Things I'd rather not admit, frankly to you or I. Things I wish I could fix. Things I wish weren't me. The things of mental illness.

And if you, dear reader, feel equally saddened and puzzled by the perceptions and consequences of mental illnesses, I ask that you do the same. Comment, share, post, think, read, understand, and feel. If we all do the same, who knows, maybe we can change a few ideas, actions, tragedies...

Keeping it real:
1. I have major depressive disorder. And I probably always will. Most of the time, I am fine, but then sometimes I am not, and spending months sobbing and sleeping feels like a nightmare in a cozy sweater.


Much virtual love,

Postscript quote: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."  ~ Margaret Mead


  1. So do I but it gets easier as you age.

    your old advisor

  2. I have had depression and anxiety for probably about 10 years. Just started medication last year finally (partially due to your encouragement, Marni). Medication has made a huge difference in stabilizing my thoughts so I don't dwell on the negative and can be more aware of all the rest that life has to offer. Prior to that, something like seeing a wounded animal outside or having a fight with a loved one could set off a 3 or 4 month long depressive episode completely out of proportion to whatever the incident was that triggered it. I really appreciated your understanding and willingness to talk to me about the issues I was having back in grad school and prior to that. I didn't realize how much getting help could HELP. Life won't always be wonderful every moment, but it's a lot better at this moment than it was for 10 years, and every time I wake up NOT feeling like hell I am really thankful to you and to the resources I have available to me now.


  3. Thanks to both of you for sharing. OA I think you are right. I have so many more resources in place than I used to and know that there is always something or someone who can help me, and others who know what it is like. JS you are giving me far too much credit. Thank you though, for your honesty and willingness to post. I am so so glad you are doing well. Feeling like hell everyday is horrible, but somehow its difficult to realize this until you don't feel like hell for a while. Later, I am going to post about rx drugs. Big hugs.

  4. Thank you for keeping it real ;)
    I didn't know that about you. I also struggle and have been on meds in and off since my early teens. As a mum to two small boys, I am terrified that my boys will inherit my tendency towards depression and axiety. Once upon a time last weeks shooter was a sweet, happy little boy like mine are. What brought him to this?...could it happen to one of my sons?......what can I do to help them go up with healthy, happy minds? What he did was so ugly and baffling. My heart aches for the families who lost children, their pain is unimaginable. And yet I am also so sad for this young man, born full of promise and possibility, and these horrible acts will be his legacy.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing Marni. I think you are so brave for starting a dialogue on such a sensitive topic. I too have suffered from depression and anxiety. You are not alone! I have to say I am so thankful for all the wonderful, supportive friends and family I have had in my life to help me through my darkest times.

  6. Thanks again, everyone. I am so encouraged by your willingness to share and am amazed to be learning so much about how each of us is touched by mental illness, in one way or another. As for depression and anxiety as a familial trait, indeed, this is a concern. Let me do a bit of research and post more on this in a day or two. My hunch is that self-awareness, normal amounts of struggle and failure, and emotionally open environments, are the best ways to set kids up with the tools necessary for coping with an increased risk of mental illness, without having them turn to violence. Much virtual love.